“Learning at The Geneva School is a combination of nurturing, exhorting, exploring, and being adventurous.” ~ Mandy Turnbull, Annabell’s mom
When Annabell Turnbull was in first grade at Geneva, the days she had Music and Movement were her best days. After all, she got to play her very own violin. Most students at Geneva’s early childhood campus probably feel that way, as learning the violin as part of their weekly curriculum.
Rachel Durrum, Geneva’s music instructor at Geneva’s Early Childhood Campus says, “Instrumental training engages nearly every part of the brain simultaneously. Playing the violin is an excellent tool for brain development in young children because it creates new neural pathways that are used in all future learning endeavors.”
Annabelle continues to learn the violin in second grade. According to mom Mandy Turnbull, Annabelle responds well to her musical training, calling it a passion. “At the dinner table we always hear about the days she gets to play the violin. This is an area she wants to pursue, and I am so thankful that Geneva introduces that experience so early and allows the students to feel successful as musicians.”
“At Geneva, I get to learn so many new and interesting things every day. I like to go home and draw them on my walls.”
Ellie Austin, a fifth grade student at The Geneva school, can’t help but express herself with art. Her experiences, feelings and thoughts are recorded like hieroglyphics on her bedroom walls. Her mom Muffie doesn’t mind ever since Ellie’s room was painted with dry-erase paint.
Right now, Ellie’s walls are covered with illustrations of her teachers, a diagram of her classroom, a large self-portrait asking, ‘What Would Jesus Do?” Bible verses and drawings her third grade Charlotte’s Web. It’s Ellie’s way of expressing what she learns and sees at school; like a journal only in pictures not words.
Muffie sees it as a natural extension to the lifelong learner Ellie is becoming at Geneva. “Through the school’s classical curriculum and teaching methods, she has developed this incredible love of learning and enthusiasm about school. She is a visual and expressive learner. Her class is taught new concepts by being active in the process … by singing songs, playing games, doing a skit or illustration. Many days she comes home singing songs to reinforce multiplication and grammar facts. It’s contagious. I find myself singing them too,” she said.
“Drawing on the walls is just a continuation of that process. Ellie’s questions and curiosity don’t stop once school is over. Her drawings open the door for more conversation about a topic, idea, or inspiration. I am so grateful that Geneva is giving her tools to learn, to think, and to express herself. And as she grows these will serve he well in life.”
Wisdom with determination is a powerful combination. Brooke Riley prayed for and practiced both over and over again during her thirteen years at The Geneva School. After graduating as salutatorian of her senior class, she is now a student at Davidson College, NC and recognizes what a gift her Geneva education has been,
When asked how Geneva has prepared her for college, Brooke says, “Everything I have learned at TGS, whether in the classroom, on a field trip, or through sports is valuable and has shaped me into the person I am. The substance of the curriculum is incredible and makes Geneva different. It taught me to look at everything in light of Christ, to think philosophically, and not accept things at a surface level. I am well equipped to vocalize my thoughts and ideas, as well as defend my faith.”
“Geneva’s given me so many ‘God moments.’ Studying theology was an amazing opportunity, one that many schools don’t offer to their students. I’m a very analytical person so this has helped me to grow in my faith. At Geneva, we learned to incorporate God into our thinking. Even math class was linked back to God and his work here on earth,” Brooke says.
Ravi Jain, who has taught Scientific Revolution, AP Calculus, and AP Physics at Geneva for the last twelve years, calls Brooke a fearless analytical thinker. He says, “Brooke approached problem solving much like mastering her volleyball serve. She just kept at it until she got it, hit a new rhythm of understanding, and then helped others get it too. With respect to academic pursuits, she valued the community and loved to help her classmates.”
A leader on the volleyball court, Brooke and the Geneva varsity Lady Knights competed in the 2A Final Four state competition in 2013 abnd reached the final 16 in 2014. Her experience on the volleyball court had important take-aways. Brooke says, “Playing volleyball taught me the value of teamwork, discipline, and selflessness, which can all be applied in the classroom, in learning, and in helping others. You can make a big difference in someone’s life by just setting a good example.”
Brooke is planning to study Mechanical Engineering while at Davidson College, seeking both bachelor’s and master’s degrees.
“My father loved God and wanted me to have a strong personal relationship with him and to share that with others. He also wanted me to work hard at all I do and become a strong man of God.”
Before Chris Cox graduated from Geneva, he had to give his senior speech, a rite of passage for every twelfth grade student. In his speech, Chris described how important the Geneva community had become after the passing of his father in fifth grade.
“Through the years, Geneva shaped me mentally and spiritually. My teachers and coaches were the godly role models I needed as I was growing up. Although this didn’t fill the void of being fatherless, they inspired me to be the man my father would have wanted me to be, “ he said.
Chris excelled in Bible, rhetoric and English courses, where he enjoyed classroom discussions about the search for truth and “leaving no stone unturned.” An avid reader, Chris also credits his years of Latin for an exponential growth in vocabulary and other languages.
Chris is a freshman at Covenant College in Tennessee, where he is studying business/accounting and plays tennis. “As I go on to college, I feel I can count on Geneva’s foundation to help me do hard things for God in the world. Although I feel academically prepared for college, I also have a very clear understanding of purpose: to love God and glorify him forever.”
Chris summed up his Geneva take-away by repeating this prayer said at the close of upper school chapel:
Let it be known to all who enter here
That Christ is the reason for this school.
The unseen, but ever-present Teacher in its classrooms;
The model of its staff,
And the inspiration of it’s students.
“I will bring Geneva with me to my next stage of life . . . college. Looking back on my thirteen years at Geneva, I can see a consistency in how the curriculum built upon itself, and the way faith was integrated into all I learned. My teachers have shown me how to seek things of deep value, and modeled how a Christian should live in the world.”
Danny Downward, a 2014 graduate, loves to understand how things fit together. “If I looked at the classes I took at Geneva as independent from each other, I would have missed some fundamental connections about reality. Geneva taught me how to relate the classes to each other, and then I was able to understand the larger picture of why they mattered. English isn’t just reading or grammar, it’s a way to better understand what an author saw in his or her time. Whether it’s fiction or non-fiction, literature is also history, as it’s written during the life of an author. In the same way, we didn’t just talk about formulas in physics and calculus. We discussed how the formulas impact each other and why they spiritually and morally matter in the world,” he said.
Through his thirteen years at Geneva, Danny was somewhat of a Renaissance man. He was involved in activities that did not seem to go together—like varsity soccer and robotics, studio art and physics, leadership positions and service to others. He simply pursued activities that made use of his gifts and tried to honor God in all he sought to do. These experiences taught him important skills like communication, time management, and decision-making—all critical for his success at college and in life.
Before turning his tassel on graduation day, Danny charged the junior class with the following sentiment: “I charge you to lead the school with Christian virtue, humility and service. Do ennobling things: practice charity, do what’s right, even when it’s hard, and esteem others more highly than yourselves. I charge you to pursue education, pursue the integration of faith and learning that Geneva provides.”
Danny is a freshman at Grove City College in Pennsylvania, where he is studying mechanical engineering.